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June 24, 2018 5 min read 1 Comment

Alison makes the happiest cards in the world. Or at least in our little world. When we came across her bright, happy greeting cards we knew they were the perfect addition to the Mrkt and are sure to bring a smile to everyone who is lucky enough to receive one. She’s recently brought out a range of enamel pins, too. Being the busy bee that she is we had to rope her in for an interview and get behind this powerhouse of a designer. Read on to learn about how she developed her signature style, her favourite places to switch off and what colour is secretly her fave.

Maker's Mrkt Makers Market Alison Willoughby Stationary Graphic Design Melbourne

Photo: Denny Louis 

Cut, paper, scissors. Many people probably don't know that your work starts out as paper cut-outs that you arrange into shapes and then digitalise to make the final designs. Brilliant! How did this signature style come about?

I’ve always been interested in starting with something physical before jumping into a digital space. I learnt so much about balance and form and shape from physically having the shapes in front of me, and playing with their layout. As a graphic designer, I have a feel for space and what works and what doesn’t, so I think this physical paper cut out method just naturally evolved.

Your works beam of bright and bold colours – where did this obsession come from, and tell us: if you HAD to choose, what colour is secretly your favourite?

There is something about colour that I’m always inspired by - strange and fun colour combinations.

Choosing a favourite is actually such an easy question. It’s pink every time! I rarely make a piece without the colour pink in there in some way. The whole millennial pink thing got me good. I’ve always had a feminine aesthetic and I just can’t seem to move away from pink.

Maker's Mrkt Makers Market Alison Willoughby Stationary Graphic Design Melbourne Photo: Denny Louis

You are a graphic designer, both digital and print, but you also paint flower pots, have your card business and recently created another physical product. Are they each other’s balancing counterparts? Design vs. art, head vs. hands, computer vs. paint?

I guess you could say that. Graphic design I guess is the more “serious” part of what I do - communicating ideas, a brand, a message. What I have learnt through graphic design I have taken into my other projects as well - balance, colour, form etc. Painting and collage are definitely a lot more ‘free’ and it’s my creative space and outlet to do whatever. I think that I really started developing a certain style and vibe in everything I was doing, and little projects and products naturally flowed from this.


Do you have any tips for developing a style while also having to conform to your client’s design guidelines? How do you stay you?

I have been lucky to work with a few clients that have a similar overall aesthetic to myself and they have allowed me to be a little more free within the brief than others. These are the clients that approach me based on what I am already doing, whether they are looking at design work or my art. Platforms like Instagram have really helped me to connect with a lot of creatives (mainly women) out there and collaborate and work with them which is really great. I think a tip would be to be active on social media and share the work you are proud of, and the work you want to do more of. Seek out clients that you feel you would align well with and initiate the conversation, even if they don’t have a project in mind just yet, they might think of you down the track.

 Maker's Mrkt Makers Market Alison Willoughby Stationary Graphic Design Melbourne

Photo: Denny Louis

You recently collaborated with Plain Pins to create a collection of 6 different enamel pins. How did this idea come about and were there any difficulties in the whole process?

This is an example of a project that I sought out myself. I had a few Plain Pins already and something about their concept and their pins just really stuck with me. The minimal, colour focused pins where really special and something I hadn’t seen before. I was brainstorming a wearable product I could make and design - I am really into colour focused accessories and wanted to create an abstract set of pins that could be really fun. I reached out to them and the result is the collaboration of 3 pin sets, designed as a wearable collage, with a new magnet shape by myself.

Sarah & Vicky from Plain Pins were like-minded creatives that made the whole process so easy - we had similar concerns and musts for the project (like the colour pink!) and we’re all so proud of the collab.


As a creative that’s often working from home it can be easy to get sucked into a little bubble. Where are your favourite places to go when you need a break or are hoping to get some inspiration?

There are so many great artists in this city (Melbourne) that I am always inspired going to shows and seeing others work. Lamington Drive where I interned back in the day is a fave spot of mine and just a few blocks away from my apartment in Collingwood. Colourful murals around town by Cassie Byrnes or Carla McRae are inspiring, and a trip to the paint swatch section at Bunnings is actually the best! This is where I plan and create colour combinations.
Also, a scroll through my camera roll from past trips is where I look at fun colours - painted houses in New Orleans, the colourful Salvation Mountain in California and bright and fun walls in L.A. I also check out #noticethings on Instagram - my favourite hashtag!

Maker's Mrkt Makers Market Alison Willoughby Stationary Graphic Design Melbourne 

What would your absolute dream project be, if the funds were there, the network extensive and not even the sky was the limit?

Ohh this is a tough one! A dream of mine would be to collaborate with Marimekko one day!

And lastly, tell us about your workspace – what are the 3 items closest to you, what is your go-to snack and what music keeps you singing along?

1. HAY ‘PHI” Scissors - so sharp and so beautiful!
2. Terrazzo notebook from Poketo, from my recent trip to L.A
3. Dulux paint swatches

My go-to snack would be either Savory Shapes or German chocolate from Aldi, and I’m usually listening to a combination of SZA/Kurt Vile/Courtney Barnett/Gang of Youths/Fleetwood Mac/Mac Demarco to name a few!

 Maker's Mrkt Makers Market Alison Willoughby Stationary Graphic Design Melbourne

Photo: Denny Louis

You can shop and see Alison's cards and pins here.






1 Response


August 24, 2018

What a great little interview! I’ve been feeling the pressures of ‘style’ lately and it’s nice to read about such an organic progression. I’ve also just moved to Melbourne AND work from home so appreciate the tips :)

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